In praise of Turquoise Jeep

July 17, 2011

Yung Humma

If the words Turquoise Jeep mean nothing, I feel sorry for you. Not-all-that-long story, shortened: TJ is a collective of rap/RnB artists and producers whose home-movie-budget music videos have lit up YouTube like fireworks in one’s living room. Their breakthrough proper came with Yung Humma‘s Lemme Smang It – “smang”, smash it and bang, being the purest portmanteau since “Jedward” – in October 2010; the track’s video has now racked up very nearly five million views.

Ultimately, it’s this crew’s outsider charm, their DIY approach and naggingly addictive beats – simple, effective – that hooks the listener. But what a treat the videos are, too, and the lyrical content… When it’s not fall-about funny, it’s wonderfully observed stuff, the mundane matter-of-fact turned on its head, becoming uncommonly absorbing. So here’s five reasons I find TJ – members of whom hail from across the States, “from New York to North Carolina” according to founder Flynt Flossy in this Village Voice interview – so very brilliant.

1. The production is spot-on. In-house wizard Tummiscratch, who makes a handful of cameos across the TQ video collection (my favourite: about 2.50 into Slick Mahoney‘s Go Grab My Belt, below), is – says Flossy – “(a man who) can make a masterpiece with a Playskool piano. It’s ridiculous. He amazes us every single time. Whenever I have any kind of melody in my head that I think will be close to another smanger, I hit him up immediately, and he will just build on it. He is a genius.” And it shows. You don’t need to have thousands of dollars and the very latest technology to create great music, and Tummiscratch absolutely nails what he needs to with great economy. The results: songs that stick in your head with or without the videos.

Slick Mahoney – Go Grab My Belt

2. It’s never clear if they’re for real, or not. Again, brilliant. Who is behind Flossy’s comedy facial furniture? Why does Tummiscratch wear a mask? The contributors who are presented at purely face value clearly take their art very seriously, and performances are consistently tighter than any proverbial parallel you want to draw. The mystery behind TJ is almost as alluring as the tracks and videos themselves – with barely any press out there, and just internet buzz building them to where they are today, they’re out-punching the hyped Odd Future for repeat-play value (not to mention good-time fun: as Flossy says, “Our music is made for all people. There’s no discrimination over here at Turquoise Jeep Records – nothing but love, feel me baby?”). The amazing amount of fan feedback, and tributes, on YouTube is evidence enough of their of mass appeal.

Turquoise Jeep Records Fan Tribute Pt.2

3. Their video casting is brilliant. You can’t have a hip hop video without some honeys, right? (Well, wrong, obviously; but for the sake of point 3…) And TJ’s casting of them is perfect. Are they friends of the artists? Who knows. But The Girls Of Turquoise Jeep are the kind of great-looking ladies who many a viewer might consider – and forgive this choice of language – “attainable”. Or, in other (better) words: “normal”. Nobody’s had an ass implant to be here. And the looks they shoot the camera? Hilarious. Humma might well want to “smang it”, but the object of his affections is far from moved. At 1.25 (and… oh my… again at 1.36) in the video below, she could be watching some CSI for all the “oooh, yes, boss, right there etc”-ing on her face. See also: the first minute of this slice of pure comedy/musical gold.

Yung Humma feat. Flynt Flossy – Lemme Smang It

4. The dancing. The above, and the below. Need I say more? (Okay, a bit.) The abandon is unmatched. Sure, videos of this stylistic corner of the pop spectrum are rarely without a little bumpin’ or grindin’ – but it’s usually those around the protagonist of the piece who are possessed by the music enough to wholly lose themselves to it. Flossy mightn’t be the best rapper in hip hop, but he’s probably the best dancer. (And he’s happy to share his skills, too.)

Flynt Flossy – Did I Mention I Like To Dance

5. It’s harmless. Sure, these guys like their sex – titles like Sex Syrup, Fried or Fertilized (as in eggs – eww) and Licky Sticky (1.47 in the below: brilliant) speak for themselves (and I don’t think they’re talking about chocolate, really, here) – but it’s dressed up in non-discriminating, non-chauvinistic language and delivered with a tongue firmly in cheek. It’s pier-end entertainment on a global level; guys playing dress up and singing slightly saucy songs about youknowwhat. And in case you’d not twigged by this point of these words, it’s packaged superbly.

Whatchyamacallit feat. Flynt Flossy – Licky Sticky

Want more? Find everything TJ-related at their website. And be sure to follow them on Twitter.

Read the Village Voice’s interview with Flynt Flossy here.

The Turquoise Jeep album, Keep The Jeep Ridin’, which features all of the above songs, is out now, yours for £6.99 on Amazon.


Forgotten Noughties #8: Meet Me in St Louis, Variations on Swing

July 7, 2011

Meet Me in St Louis Variations on Swing

Meet Me in St Louis
Variations on Swing
Big Scary Monsters, 2007

There will be those of you out there who haven’t forgotten this at all – it may even be a favourite to this day. I know that I frequently return to it. But to many Meet Me in St Louis were just a name on a supporting bill, an act that hit its natural ceiling of potential and was never likely to have proceeded further. This album, to these ears, suggests that’s far from the case (and that such observers are/were ignorant dolts). Ostensibly post-hardcore – in so much as its cues can be traced to a handful of turn-of-the-millennium emo bands and the jazz-influenced playfulness of the likes of Spy vs Spy, not to mention the ferocious right-angles riffery of At the Drive-In – it’s an album that dares where so few of its ilk actually did, despite so much hollow boasting. Word was (from the band, at the time) that its producer, Alex Newport, was forced to play catch-up with the band (or simply leave them to it, and nod approvingly), as their chosen timings were too much for the Grammy-nominated fellow to process. And sure enough, at several points this record sounds seconds away from collapse, its players at the very edge of their abilities; cohesion is stretched to near breaking-point, yet somehow the five musicians keep everything under relative control. Ambition is evident from the album’s song titles, most of which refer to films and contain enough twists and turns to fill a dozen Hollywood flicks. There are moments of surprise, touches of tenderness, and everything’s overshadowed by the feeling that this band is giving absolutely fucking everything to the cause. But, like so many bands with the widest horizons before them, relationships within the camp weren’t as perfect as they could be, and vocalist Toby Hayes departed just weeks after this album’s release. The band eventually signed off for good in early 2008. Members have since featured in acts including Colour, Tropics and Shoes and Socks Off.

All We Need Is a Little Energon, and a Lot of Luck

The Torso Has Been Severed In Mid-Thorax